In the recent survey, I got a lot of hard numbers to back up and/or refute my assumptions about who reads johnaugust.com. I also got a lot of good suggestions from Question 10, which read: “If I could do one thing to improve johnaugust.com, I would…”
Here’s a sampling of what people wrote, and how I might implement their advice. Today, we’ll look at suggestions about content. Tomorrow we’ll cover everything else.
Update the site daily.
Increase the frequency of updates (no matter how breezy or trivial).
I do my best to post a couple of times per week. Realistically, that’s the best I can do while holding down a full-time screenwriting career. Unlike Jason Kottke, I don’t think any number of micro-patrons is going to enable me to quit my day job. Though at times, it’s tempting.
Increase the Q&A sections, or at least make the IMDb columns less of a rehash from what’s already been posted on the website.
The IMDb columns are the same questions I answer on the site. I could divvy them up differently, but I’d still be answering the same number of questions.
Be funnier. It’s a little dry.
Alas, dry is what you get. The truth is, I’m not crazy yuk-yuk funny, as you might guess by the movies I write: entertaining, sure. Hysterical, not so much. This site isn’t really meant to be a hoot-and-a-half. At its best, it’s probably edu-tainment.
Avoid marketing the site and keep it as is: personal and friendly.
The survey was never part of some marketing master plan. I don’t really have any goals further than what I’m currently doing with the site. I was just curious who was actually reading the site.
Post your critiques/thoughts on more movies (e.g. Phantom of the Opera).
We’ll see. The reality is that unlike an actual film critic, I have to work with many of these filmmakers, so it literally pays to keep my mouth shut sometimes.
Share more personal experiences (insider stories) with screenwriting and the industry.
Discuss your experiences on previous films you worked on more (“Charlie’s Angels,” etc.)
More personal Hollywood stories. These are very interesting.
The secret to my success, in addition to some writing talent, is that I’m good at getting along with difficult people. Inconsiderate people. Assholes, frankly.
So the problem with most of my juicy Hollywood stories is that they involve these assholes. I’m happy to spill a few details over cocktails, but it’s another matter to write it down, where anyone (including the aforementioned assholes) can read.
I do have many positive experiences in the industry, however, and I’ll try to include more of them on the site. There really are good people in Hollywood, and I tend to work with them multiple times.
Talk more about the life of a professional writer – the nuts and bolts of daily life.
Yeah, I should. And I’ll try to get other writers to explain their work situations, because I’m hardly the template.
More posts about the thought process you had with a certain project (e.g. how did you come up with the “great idea”).
Good idea. I’ll try to do that more often.
Posts of “corrected exercises.” Problems you had in the past with dead-end situations and how you escaped them.
Tricky to show on screen, but worth the effort. I’ll try to find examples that make sense.
Focus on the technique and style and craft of screenwriting and cut the “how do I get a job/agent/manager/lawyer” questions for the gurus who advertise their “Incredible Industry In$ider Seminars” in the pages of Variety and Backstage West.
Wow. I feel like if I dodged the agent/manager questions any more, I’d start looking like Keanu Reeves during the rooftop sequence in The Matrix. But thanks for giving me permission to do less.
Stick to the questions about craft and execution. While the geek stuff (RSS feeds, etc) might be interesting, writers want to know more about screenwriting from a true professional.
Avoid posts discussing blogs and blog technology. Other people cover this topic much more thoroughly and many are here to read about screenwriting and your career as a writer.
Points taken. The truth is, I have a range of interests outside of screenwriting, and it’s hard not to write about these off-topic topics. At some point, I may start a second blog dedicated to my geekier side. In the meantime, I’ll try to keep johnaugust.com focused more narrowly on screenwriting and the film industry.
More interviews of other notable people in the industry by you.
More columns from guest writers.
I’ve slacked off on the First Person articles. I’ll try to beat a few more out of my fellow professional screenwriters. The interview idea is a good one as well.
Tomorrow, I’ll list readers’ suggestions about everything else site-related. In the meantime, feel free to use to the comments section on this post to address anything you agree or disagree with so far.